by Betty Ikalany – SE Entrepreneur, SE Outreach Accelerator 2015

I was lucky to be among the 8 entrepreneurs selected to attend the SE Forum Outreach Accelerator 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden. This was a two-month journey which I was so scared of at the beginning but was surprised that it was over soon. This is my experience during my stay in Sweden.

First week in Sigtuna was very nice. Despite being jetlagged, I enjoyed the induction week. The dinner was so good especially the way it was being served.

Lunch time at Sigtunastiftelsen during Week 1 of the Accelerator

Lunch time at Sigtunastiftelsen during Week 1 of the Accelerator

The comfort of sleeping in your own room was good because one had freedom to either read till late or sleep straight away. I had a little difficulty getting used to the other social entrepreneurs at the beginning because this was a diverse team of people from different countries, with different cultures and behaviours. That first week, I concluded that Flaviano, the social entrepreneur from Italy was the most arrogant and proud and I would keep away from him. However, at the end of the accelerator, I had a different view of him especially when he offered to escort me to the bus station and even offered to carry my suitcase for me. He held a constructive conversation with me and I realized that it is not good to rush to make judgments about people until you have had ample time to study them.

In the second week, I stayed in an apartment with three ladies from India and Vietnam. In the first week, we didn’t know how to go about cooking because we did not know which food was good for all of us. It was trial and error. However, at the end of the two months, we could get along and I knew everybody’s interests which simplified our stay.

Just like other developed countries I have visited, everyone’s life seemed to be so much dependent on the smartphone such that even when eating, people are looking at their phones. Getting your way around, one needed a smartphone. I was very surprised at how a phone can affect people’s social lives to the extent that you find it difficult to greet people because they are occupied by the smartphone.

Betty as part of the panel of experts on Social Entrepreneurship at the Inclusive Business Forum in Solna

Betty as part of the panel of experts on Social Entrepreneurship at the Inclusive Business Forum in Solna

The transport system is so organized and with the power of the smartphone, one could tell when the next bus would come unlike back in my country where you wait without being sure of whether the bus will come or it has already gone. Furthermore, the comfort of knowing that you don’t have to have a power blackout and that you can get water directly from the tap and drink without fear of drinking contaminated water was so good.

The SE Forum Team of David, Maew and Carlos, was a team of three people from different parts of the world converging in Sweden to do good work . They made us comfortable and I am grateful to Maew who gave in her time to help me understand my financials.

The mentors were so helpful and I want to thank God for the mentor that was allocated for me. She was so supportive and made me feel like I had another family in Sweden. I am thankful to SE forum and Sida for giving me the opportunity to meet different people, exposure which helped me to learn many things as well as make many networks. To the Social Entrepreneurs from Kenya, Bangladesh, Italy, India, Vietnam and Pakistan, thank you for the time and support you gave me.

Graduation presentation at the EY Office in Stockholm

Graduation presentation at the EY Office in Stockholm